08 Apr Combating Prescription Drug Abuse State by State
The fight against prescription drug abuse is a national problem, but the battle is being fought state by state. So how are states doing? Trust for America’s Health issued a report showing that over half aren’t doing all that they could.
The report contains sobering statistics: Since 1999, drug overdose fatalities doubled in 29 states, tripled in others and quadrupled in a handful. The fatalities were mostly from prescription drugs, which means more people die from prescription drugs than vehicular crashes.
Trust for America’s Health joined with other drug, law and public health officials to form a consortium that outlined national recommendations for combating prescription drug abuse. They then came up with 10 measures for how individual states are implementing these recommendations and gave each state a one to 10 score based on compliance:
- 17 states plus Washington D.C. had enacted Good Samaritan Laws that grant at least partial immunity to those who call for help in the face of a potential overdose. In the past many overdose deaths occurred because people feared being charged and refused to call for help.
- 24 states plus Washington D.C. have implemented Medicaid Expansion, which extends insurance coverage including addiction treatment and services.
- 32 states now require a person picking up a controlled substance from the pharmacy to show their I.D.
- 49 states have developed Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) that track doctors who overprescribe and patients who shop multiple doctors to accumulate prescriptions. However, only 16 states mandate that physicians and other health providers participate in PDMPs.
- 22 states require or strongly recommend health care workers that dispense prescription pain medication go through supplementary education courses.
- West Virginia suffered more prescription drug overdose fatalities than any other state – 28.9/100,000 people.
- North Dakota suffered the fewest overdose deaths – 3.4/100,000 people.
In terms of scores, New Mexico and Vermont received the highest marks, earning a 10/10 for adhering to recommended efforts. South Dakota received the lowest score, a 2/10. More than six million Americans are currently abusing prescription drugs, and it’s estimated that 50 Americans die each day due from pills.
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